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Thai parliament votes to outlaw commercial surrogacy

1 December 2014
Appeared in BioNews 782

Thailand's interim parliament has voted in support of a law to ban its largely unregulated surrogacy trade.

The move follows several high-profile surrogacy scandals including the case of baby Gammy, who was allegedly abandoned by his intended Australian parents because he has Down's syndrome (reported in BioNews 765).

If passed, the new law would mean that anyone involved in commercial surrogacy could face up to ten years in prison. A finalised version of the law is expected to be ready for consideration within a month.

Dozens - perhaps even hundreds - of foreign couples are thought to have been left in the dark after entering Thai surrogacy agreements.

'We want to put an end to this idea in foreigners' minds that Thailand is a baby factory,' Thai MP Wallop Tungkananurak told the AFP news agency. 'The bill was adopted with overwhelming support.'

For decades, commercial surrogacy in Thailand has existed in a legal grey area. In 1997, the Thai Medical Council issued a service standard stipulating that 'no compensation may be made' to the gamete donor or surrogate mother, and that the surrogate mother 'shall be a relative by blood of either party of the couple', but these stipulations have been largely unenforced.

Associated Press adds that the Medical Council 'has a regulation stating that doctors cannot perform surrogacy for pay or risk losing their licence'. This, too, has apparently been ignored.

Crucially, Thai law does not specifically ban commercial surrogacy, making it an attractive destination for foreigners hoping to have a baby this way.

The baby Gammy controversy was followed by reports of a separate case in which a 24-year-old Japanese man fathered at least 15 children with Thai surrogate mothers (see BioNews 768).

Thai Legislature Approves Ban on Surrogacy
ABC News (Associated Press) |  28 November 2014
Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy following Baby Gammy cas
Straits Times (AFP) |  28 November 2014
Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy following baby Gammy outcry
The Telegraph |  28 November 2014
Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy trade
BBC News |  28 November 2014
16 May 2016 - by Ryan Ross 
A same-sex couple have won a custody battle in Thailand against their surrogate after she allegedly refused to allow them to leave the country with their baby because they were not 'an ordinary couple'...
18 April 2016 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A court in Western Australia has ruled that the twin sister of Baby Gammy, who was born to a Thai surrogate in 2013, should remain with her parents in Australia...
23 February 2015 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Thailand's parliament has passed a law banning surrogacy for foreign couples, after two scandals sparked worldwide attention last year...
26 January 2015 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Baby Gammy, who was born with Down's syndrome to a Thai surrogate mother and was at the centre of a surrogacy scandal last year, has been granted Australian citizenship....
19 January 2015 - by Ayesha Ahmad and James Brooks 
The surrogate mothers of nine of the babies fathered by a Japanese man and taken into care by the Thai authorities have filed for custody of the children...
1 September 2014 - by Rebecca Carr 
Thailand's military junta has pledged a transitional period of leniency in cases of babies born to surrogate mothers, as it prepares to tighten its laws on the country's surrogacy industry....
18 August 2014 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
'Money can't buy you love but it can certainly buy you parenthood'. Or can it? Should it? And if it should, where and how should it be regulated?...
18 August 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
Thailand's Government has approved a draft law intended to make commercial surrogacy a criminal offence, leaving foreign couples reportedly unable to take their surrogate-born children out of the country....
4 August 2014 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A child with Down's syndrome born to a Thai surrogate is reported to have been abandoned by the intended parents, an Australian couple, who have denied the allegations. Conflicting versions of the developing story have been reported....
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